For many women, getting pregnant can be difficult. This may be particularly true for women who are overweight or obese. Obesity has been linked to irregular periods, reduced fertility, and increased risk of miscarriage through a variety of complex systems. According to research, obesity impacts multiple stages of pregnancy including the availability of viable eggs, the chance of fertilization, and the development of the embryo.
The good news is that losing weight can improve hormonal profiles, regularity of periods, ovulation, and pregnancy rates in overweight women trying to conceive. While this is great news, sometimes fertility issues may be caused by another underlying issue. It turns out these too can be exacerbated by being overweight. For example, obesity can worsen the symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), which is related to infertility. Compared with normal weight women with PCOS, overweight and obese women with PCOS have more problems with their periods, ovulation, and pregnancy rates in general. When overweight or obese women with PCOS lose weight, their fertility outcomes are improved. In fact, weight loss in obese infertile women seeking any type of fertility treatment leads to improved outcome. This means even if weight loss alone doesn’t lead to an easier conception and pregnancy, it still improves fertility overall, which makes any additional fertility treatments more effective. For this reason, women who are seeking fertility treatments due to difficulty conceiving are often first advised to lose weight.